Donald Trump stepped on Friday against France and its tax on the US digital giants denouncing "stupidity" of President Emmanuel Macron and threatening to retaliate the French wine, one of the most iconic tricolor export products.
"France has just imposed a digital tax on our big US technology companies.If someone had to tax them, it should be their home country, the United States," tweeted the US president.
"We will soon announce a substantial interaction after Macron's stupidity, and I have always said that American wine is better than French wine!" Added the White House host, who does not drink alcohol.
On the other side of the Atlantic, the reaction did not take long: "France will implement its national decisions", reacted the Minister of the Economy Bruno Mayor.
The French Parliament had definitively adopted on 11 July the introduction of a tax on the digital giants, making France a pioneer country in the taxation of "Gafa" (acronym for Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple) and other multinationals accused of tax evasion.
The Trump administration had announced the day before that decision that it was launching a survey to measure the effects of such a tax on US companies.
Then, at the G7 in France two weeks ago, Paris and Washington seemed to reduce their litigation, finance ministers then talking about progress towards a global agreement on the taxation of digital.
"The universal taxation of digital activities is a challenge that concerns us all.We want to reach an agreement on this subject in the framework of the G7 and the OECD," said Friday Bruno Le Maire.
- "Political tools" -
This unilateral decision "demonstrates the lack of commitment of France in the ongoing negotiations with the OECD," however said Friday from Washington a White House spokesman, Judd Deere.
"The Trump administration has always said it will not sit back and tolerate any discrimination against US companies," he warned in a statement.
The US Trade Representative (USTR) has already launched an investigation into the possible effects of this tax, he said. And, the Trump administration "looks closely at all the other policy tools," he said.
The Gafa tax creates a tax on large companies in the sector not on their profit, often consolidated in countries with very low taxes like Ireland, but on turnover, pending a harmonization of rules at the level of OECD.
Earlier, the White House's chief economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, called the tax "a very, very big mistake."
"We are not happy that France has gone ahead with this kind of tax on digital," he said on the CNBC channel.
The Gafa tax imposes these companies up to 3% of the turnover achieved in France including targeted online advertising, the sale of data for advertising purposes and the linking of Internet users by the platforms.
This solution, which is intended to be only temporary pending the outcome of international negotiations.
In June, Donald Trump had already hinted that he could impose additional customs duties on French wine.
But he then invoked these additional customs duties to correct a competition deemed "unfair".
"France taxes wine a lot and we tax little French wine," had then denounced the US president during a long interview on CNBC.
French wine is renowned for being "very good", had also commented the host of the White House. But American winemakers complain that he enters the US "for nothing".
"It's not fair, we're going to do something about it," he said.
© 2019 AFP